Front-line level employees with any company tend to be in a very good position
to observe the good behaviors and the not-so-good behaviors of their leaders.
Since one of my long-term goals is to be an executive with my company, and
being prior military, I take leadership development VERY seriously. Over the
past two years as a front-line level employee, I have maintained a list of
observations about leadership, from a front-line view. As I have gained more
responsibility in my company I have used this list as a set of guidelines
when dealing with employees. I would like to encourage everyone from line-level
to CEO to be aware that your employees DO, in fact, watch you and learn from
you … whether you are aware of it or not!
Based on my observations, I have created a set of guidelines for myself
and suggest they may be applicable to any leader, or those who aspire to lead.
Consider this to be a view from the flip side!
I WILL . . .
- Never choose administrative duties or deadlines over my employees.
Remember, when one of your employees comes to your door and asks to speak
with you, there must be a very good reason for it! Taking the time to speak
with them gives you a few advantages: a) you get to take a much needed break
from your paperwork; b) your employees feel as though they are important to
you; and c) you are more aware of the morale of your employees.
- Always tell my employees that they are THE BEST.
When you tell your employees over and over that they are the best, they
start to believe it. In turn, they start to act like they are the best. Let
them know every day that they are the most valuable, highly competent, high
performing group of employees out there … and before long, they WILL start
acting like it.
- Always believe that my employees are the best.
In order to make #2 work, you have to believe it yourself!
- Never focus on past poor performance when the performance is the
result of an environment that I personally had no control over. Focus only
on future potential and create the environment that best fosters developmental
Even the most highly motivated employee will flounder in an environment
that is not conducive to their continued development … or if they get bored.
If you come into a new situation and see people who are seemingly under-performing,
there is a good chance that they need a change in their work environment.
Do you see under-performers where you are now? …the same applies.
Don't wait, start the change now! Ask your people what their goals are
for themselves. Is the current situation helping them or hindering them from
achieving those goals?
- Never discourage ideas, regardless of how seemingly far-fetched,
impossible, irrelevant, unnecessary or change-intensive they seem. Provide
every possible resource for my employees to implement their ideas and make
sure they get full credit.
Two years ago I was told that recreating and refocusing our department's
current training program to include Guest Service and Guest/Employee Safety
training was an "unnecessary waste of time." Being as stubborn as I am, I
did it anyway on my time off. Eight months later I gladly stepped on stage
with my fellow department team-mates to accept an award at our annual company
awards ceremony for having successfully implemented a training program that
resulted in having no Worker's Compensation claims, decreased employee turn-over
rate from 30% to 0%, and having the highest Guest Satisfaction scores in the
company. The moral of the story is - encourage the implementation of new ideas!
Chances are that it will be done with or without your support … why not be
the number one cheer-leader?
- Never forget where I started.
Do you remember where you started? Were you a front desk agent, call center
representative, or cashier? Do you remember what it was like to stand there
every day wondering how in the world you were ever going to get to that seemingly
impossible goal of being the CEO / VP / Manager? Did any of your leaders ever
look at you when you were a front-line level employee and say, "WOW, you are
on your way to the top …definitely executive material?" I know mine have never
said that (and I have no expectation of hearing it), but look at you now!
Who is to say that one of your current line-level employees is not a future
CEO or business genius? I don't expect you to get warm fuzzies when thinking
about the "way back when", but take a few minutes every week to think about
what your leaders did NOT do for you that you CAN do for your employees?
These are just a few of the guidelines I have set for myself. Are your employees
doing the same as they are watching you? Probably. They may not be writing
them down, but rest assured that one of two things go through their mind when
they interact with their leaders:
1. I will never, ever pull that on anybody no matter what … or …
2. WOW!! I can't wait to use that next time the situation comes up!
Be the ultimate example!